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Friedrich Engels: biography of this revolutionary philosopher

Friedrich Engels: biography of this revolutionary philosopher

September 13, 2022

Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) was the German philosopher and politician who founded modern communism along with Karl Marx. Some authors consider that the key to understanding the thought of Friedrich Engels is precisely his biography, because it was his youthful development that marked a large part of his work.

Next we will do a brief review of the biography of Friedrich Engels , and we point out some of his works and main contributions to the philosophical, political and economic thought of the 20th century.

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Friedrich Engels, biography of a revolutionary

Friedrich Engels was born on November 28, 1820. He was the oldest of eight siblings and belonged to a family that owns mills in Barmen, a northern part of Prussia that is now part of Germany, and had important industrial development at that time.


Son of textile manufacturer, Engels he soon became concerned about the general conditions of the manufacturing industries and about the situation of the working class . During his adulthood he worked in this sector, which inspired him to start writing some of his major works.

Although he had been educated in a Protestant family, Engels came closer to atheistic beliefs. The latter caused some conflicts with his parents and especially with his mother.

The same thing happened when he had to leave school and his father sent him to work as a clerk in a commercial house. Both his mother and his father expected him to develop a business career, just as they had. However Engels was already developing some activities that were considered revolutionary and inciting the collective organization , what disappointed his parents again.


In 1844 he met Karl Marx, in Paris, just before settling in England after some failures of the revolutions of the same decade. In fact, during his stay in England, Engels he worked for the textile industry where his father was a shareholder . The latter considered that perhaps if Engels worked in this industry, this would serve to appease the radical teachings he had received at school.

Engels he continued to work together with Marx many years later , even helped him finance the first volume of his main work: The Capital (Das Kapital), in 1867 and provided a livelihood, given that Marx had serious difficulties to live autonomously because of the beto imposed by large families with power over the economy and politics.

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Work and most important intellectual contributions

There are many debates about the relationship of Engels with the Hegelian philosophy of before 1850, as well as on his relationship with his capitalist working-class family. He even signed some of his works under the pseudonym of Friedrich Oswald, to avoid connecting his Protestant and business family with the provocativeness of his writings.


Among other things, Friedrich Engels contributed very important discussions on some notions about nationality, military and scientific affairs, industrial operations. And maybe two of its great Contributions to the Western philosophical tradition are historical materialism and dialectical materialism .

Engels also positioned himself against the institution of marriage because he considered it as something unnatural and unjust. This conviction maintained her despite her long relationship with Mary Burns, who also helped her to enter the working class of England.

Several of the observations and notes he made on the British working class provided key insights into the terrible working conditions they were going through. From there he also became involved with politicians and journalists with whom he shared radical thoughts for the time.

It was not until 1845, when he began to formulate, together with Marx, a materialist interpretation of history, in which he proposed the eventual consolidation of a communist society . The same spread it through different groups, mainly working class, within Germany, France and England.

Finally, the Communist Congress of London adopted several of his ideas, and authorized him to begin to outline the principles of communism. It was as well as the first part of the Communist Manifesto (The Manifest der kommunistischen Partei) was published on February 21, 1848. This text is mainly written by Marx, but includes many of Engels's definitions of communism.

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Other key texts and important books of Engels

The first work published by Engels was not an academic text, but was a poem entitled The bedouin, which was included in the 1838 edition of Bremisches Conversationblastt.

His most popular work began in the 1840s, with The Holy Family (1844), which was a critique of "young Hegelians" , which was a very popular academic circle evidently influenced by the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel Hegel. He subsequently published The situation of the working class in England (1845), which contains several of the beginnings of socialism and its development, which is why it is considered one of the classic texts.

Later he published the work From utopian socialism to scientific socialism (1880), where he criticizes socialist utopias and offers an explanation about capitalism from the development and social and economic progression understood by historical materialism.

Finally, publish The origin of the family, private property and the state (1884), where capitalism contexts with the institution of the family. This work was developed in the stage that is considered a cusp in the intellectual development of Engels, and contains a powerful historical vision about the family in relation to the subject of class, gender and private property .

Bibliographic references:

  • Craver, T. (1990). Friedrich Engels: his life and thought. Macmillan: USA.
  • New World Encyclopedia. (2017). Friedrich Engels. Retrieved May 17, 2018. Available at //www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Friedrich_Engels.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (September 2022).


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